>> it's been nice talking to you. hope many people read your book. >> guest: has been great discussing with you. thank you. >> the next three hours is your chance to talk to author and military strategies. the former assistant secretary of defense will talk about counterinsurgency. the wind out of the war in afghanistan and current foreign
policy. the council of foreign relations member and former analyst is the author of six nonfiction books, including the village, the strongest tribe and his 2011 release, the wrong war. >> being wise, why do you call afghanistan toward the wrong war? >> guest: because we had a strategy that was misplaced for the war. we shouldn't have had a strategy of trying to build a nation with 31 million tribesmen hurtling into the ninth century. that was too much. so what was the wrong war for the strategy we chose. maybe you could do that in japan or germany after world war ii, but doing in afghanistan, which is a pile of rocks in the middle of nowhere was the wrong war for that strategy. >> host: what would've been the right were? >> guest: very sent will. we should've finished al qaeda in 2001.
our general despair, but i think all of us. the rack, we were attacked on 9/11. more americans died in pearl harbor. we had al qaeda and we had osama bin laden trapped in some mountains called tora bora. and then we let them escape over the other side of the mountain because we said that pakistani territory. think for a moment. can you imagine during world war ii when we had attenborough had the battle of midway, which change the entire war against japan. ..
>> guest: that's my judgment. now, given that we didn't finish it then, then i think the only thing we should have done is send in some advisers, give the afghans money for their own troops, and that's it. let them decide their own kind of government. don't try to build a nation. >> host: we've been there 13 years. >> guest: yeah, 15 years. i think it's wrong. it is just wrong. but i've said that for a long while. now we're getting out. president obama has said, hey, that's it. we could stay in afghanistan if we wanted to build a nation for the next hundred years, but there's no sense in doing that. >> host: in "the wrong war," t
you write that there are solid reasons to remain engaged, then you go on to say that our mistake in afghanistan was to do the work of others for ten years, expecting reciprocity across a cultural and religious divide. >> guest: we're not afghans. that should be obvious. so why are we over there trying to persuade these tribesmen, whom we don't even speak the language with them, to support their government? we tried to do too much. i can see sending advisers, but that's all. >> host: you also write in "the wrong war," grit strategy and the way out of afghanistan that when a avoiding casualties is the achievement, it's time to leave. >> guest: we had generals, including one temperature general by the name of mcchrystal, that said you can't win wars by killing people. oh, yes, you can. that's what a war is all about.
and general mccristal and others said -- mcchrystal said we should spend 95% of our effort persuading the people and 5% attacking the enemy. that makes no sense. if you start putting all these restrictions upon the use of force, do you know that we ended up having a lawyer in every battalion who had to decide whether we could use air in an attack for fear that somebody would be court-martialed? so we put restrictions on ourselves beyond the restrictions that police have in major cities in the united states. >> host: bing west, in your view, was the iraq war necessary? [laughter] >> guest: with perfect 20/20 hindsight? absolutely not. >> host: at the time what did you think? >> guest: at the time i did because i believed then, as did most of the american public and the congress, that saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction and would give them to terrorists.
that turns out to have been wrong. wrong idea. >> host: in your book about the iraq war, "the strongest tribe," you write that although sacrifice on a national scale is not required for every conflict, a healthy society does not treat war as an extension of domestic political competition. national security cannot be sustained when domestic party affiliation and ideology determine the support for a war. iraq was a symptom, not the cause of the ideological polarization in american society. >> guest: i think it should trouble all of us tremendously when you see parties, the democrats or the republicans, aligning on issues strictly on their ideology rather than being americans, you've got a problem. and senator reid who's the democratic senator in charge of the senate basically said the war was lost.
you don't go around saying things like that when you're an american and we're at war. so i think that this country has become entirely too divided along ideological lines. i don't know what the solution is, but we have the stop beating up on one another. >> host: the iraq war in the 2000s, the vietnam war in the '60s, same division, ideological divisions? >> guest: no, no. i think -- i fought in vietnam. the way the american public, both parties, treat our military so vastly different that we're a much better country today. much better. we, we're -- our spirit toward our troops is terrific. and that was vastly different than vietnam. and that's whether you're democrat, republican or independent. we're much more behind our troops in this war than we ever were in vietnam. >> host: back to your book with, "strongest tribe," about iraq:
we depend on volunteers to man our thin red line. by the tone of our criticisms, we can undercut our own martial resolve. if we, as a nation, lose heart, who will fight for us when valor has no champion? america loses. >> guest: i'm a grunt. i was born during world war ii, and both my uncles were marines. when they came home from guadalcanal and iwo jima, they were my babysitters for the first five years of my life. it was inevitable i was going to go into the marine infantry because that's a tradition in my family. for four generations we've been marine infantry. when you're in a war, you need a fierce spirit that you're going to win, and you need tough guys who are out there, and they're cohesive, and they believe what they're doing, and they receive awards for destroying the enemy.
and you can't change that. and i think that we have to be very, very careful that we don't start sending shifting signals. but i've been, again, i've been very pleased to see recently we're beginning to give more medals of honor, more ways of saying we acknowledge your bravery, we acknowledge that you killed the enemy. i don't think we can ever lose sight of that spirit. and we have that spirit. right now if you want to come into the marine corps, for instance, you have to wait a year. that's how long the queue is to get into the united states marine corps. so i think we're on pretty good ground with those who are coming into the military today. >> host: bing west, when you look at the history, the last 30, 40, 50 years of wars that the u.s. has fought, how has it changed from vietnam through iraq, iraq, afghanistan? >> guest: i would say the first huge difference is death.
we fought, if i could call the word existential war in world war ii. we had to win that war. unconditional surrender. when i went to vietnam, all of my top commanders in the marine corps had fought in world war ii, and we had the idea when you get into that fight, you get into that fight. we went over as individuals, not as whole units. and you accepted death. it just happened. sometimes you didn't even know who he was, and he was dead. that was world war ii. in vietnam, 50,000. i see a vast difference today in iraq and afghanistan not just on our side, but the other side. everyone is much more cautious now. it's like tribes fighting. you don't want to fight to the last man on either side. the american indians, when they were fighting in the plains against our troops, etc., in the 1860s, if they were losing a battle, they'd retreat. it wasn't an idea that you had
to stay on a battlefield until you won or lost. i have to think we have to be very careful that we don't go too far with this, that death itself becomes what you want to avoid. but the biggest difference i've seen on battlefields is the attitude toward death. >> host: where is the act of killing, you write, as a nation we have become so refined and so removed from danger that we don't utter the word "kill." the troops in the strongest tribe book aren't victims, they are hunters. >> guest: and i regret that our generals have become babe too educated -- maybe too educated. they all have doctorate degrees and things, and they've develop to liberal schools -- and they've gone to liberal schools, and they're unwilling to say when you go out onto that battlefield, you go out to kill
the enemy. we have things like our chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral mullen, when he was there saying you can't win a war by killing the enemy. well, wait, that's what wars are all about. and we can't get so refined that we believe that we forget what war is. war is the act of destruction, violence and killing. and the people at the top have to be more like this general, sometimes he's called mad dog mattis, who is the commander of our troops in central command where they don't flinch from it. you go forward on that battlefield. i expect you to be so ferocious that you will continue to kill and you will continue to destroy until you defeat the enemy. >> host: who's dakota meyer? >> guest: dakota meyer is a wonderful example -- the reason i'm smiling is i think he's a great example of young americans today. dakota meyer came from the farm lambeds of kentucky, graduate --
farmlands of kentucky. aggravated assaulted from high school, came into the marine corps. he's a big kid -- i shouldn't use the word kid, but he's only 24, 25 now. and he was in a battle where some of the other marines who were advisers were trapped. dakota was off the field of battle, and he rushed onto that field of battle to try to save his other comrades and refused to be defeated. and he fought for six hours with just a small group, three or four of them, against 30 or 40 of the taliban who had come over from pakistan. and he showed remarkable bravery and was awarded the medal of honor, but he didn't want it. the interesting thing about dakota is that after he received it, he felt he had been a failure because his four friends had been killed. and to this day, i hope he's got been over it more, but dakota was shaken by the fact why should you reward me when my friends were killed? if i had done my job, they'd be
alive. and that's not true because dakota couldn't possibly have saved them. but he was a fighting machine for about six hours. he just wouldn't stop fighting. >> host: what was your role in writing "into the fire"? >> guest: well, my role was in that particular book i had spent a lot of time in the area, and i knew the units. i knew all of them. i missed that battle, but by us in the others. and as an army captain came up to me one day, and he said, hey, sir, you have to meet our pit bull. i said, who's that? he said that happens to be corporal meyer. and i went in just to shake hands with him and just talk, and all of a sudden there was a rifle shot. that would happen occasionally from different positions. and dakota is out the door immediately in this shooting. and i rooked at him -- looked at him and i thought he wasn't on sentry duty, what was he doing? i said, what's up with you? and he was just very, very angry
about what happened. and i thought maybe people should know about that. so i talked to some of the generals, and i said do you know what happened out here? and they began to investigate it, and they just said certain things had gone right and other things had gone wrong. we hadn't given those troops the support that they deserved. but more than that, i wanted to write the book to explain to the american people kinds of young men that we really have out there. >> in this book, dakota meyer is writing: i am the gun, i'm a sniper. shooting is technique, no emotion. sometimes you do think about it, that tiny figure in the distance is a human being. he may be a great guy, or he may be one of those animals who will beat his sister to death for having a boyfriend not arranged by the family. you are not there to judge. my only job is to bring him down before he gets to cover. i fire burst after burst, i hit his legs first, then his back. i keep shooting until i'm
tearing up a corpse. i rip through 200 rounds. the sound of the last rounds echoes down the valleys with no return fire. that rpg gunner died alone, no riflemen were providing cover for him. i wondered if he was dumb or if he had gotten away with it before with. i trotted back to the bunker. >> guest: dakota was a sniper. i've known a lot of snipers through the years. but everyone on the battlefield be, every grunt i've known after you're in that for, say, three or four weeks you have to become dispassionate. you don't think about those people that you're killing as human beings. they are simply targets in your sights, and that's how you have to look at them. there's a place for compassion, but the place for compassion is not in the middle of a fire fight. dakota, for instance, had fired 10,000 rounds before this fight, and so to him it was just aligning his sights and shooting. aligning his sights, shooting.
his mind was blank in terms of is that a human being? you don't think about that person as a human being. you think about him as an object that has to be destroyed. >> host: bing west, where did you serve in vietnam and how long, and how'd you get into -- did you volunteer? >> guest: oh, sure. i had to. i mean, well, it's such a tradition that, of course, i was going to become a marine. i was going to become infantry. and then i was with several different units, one was called the ninth marines, another one called force recon, another called a combined action platoon. so i got a chance to see the big battles and the small battles. one of the generals over there wanted somebody to write about what they were doing at the small unit level because his experience had been in guadalcanal and okinawa, and his name was general wald. so e sent me out to the different battlefields where i'd been fighting to write about them so there'd be some sort of doctrine we could hand on to the
junior officers going out op the battlefields. so i saw a lot of different kinds of action in vietnam. >> host: how long were you there? >> guest: well, i went back and forth several times for the marines, and then i joined what was called the rand corporation, and they sent me right back there to be an analyst, so altogether i guess i spent 18-24 months in vietnam. but i got a chance to go all over the place. >> host: in hindsight, should we have gone into vietnam? should we have worked with south vietnam? >> guest: that's an interesting question. i come down on the side of, yes. i -- this will never be resolved about what happened in vietnam. and there are two schools of thought. one school of thought is that there was decay in the government such that it was going to topple anyway. that's the dominant school of thought. there's another school of thought that i think i belong to, and that is that after we withdrew -- because i was there,
i was there in '66, '67, '6 8, part of '69, different times -- that if we had continued to give the south vietnamese aid the way russia and china gave to north vietnam, that north vietnam would not have taken south vietnam. now, i know most historians listening to me say, bing, you're wrong. but we'll never be able to resolve -- it's a counterfactual, but we'll never be able to resolve it because we did cut our aid. and that's what worries me about afghanistan. >> host: how did you get into the writing business? >> guest: i, i think be you're, if you're a writer it's going to show up. because you feel compelled at some particular point. and it's, you read, then you want to express yourself. it's not like i ever sat down to be a writer. my goodness gracious, never. if i knew you could make a living that way.
but i kept coming back to it and back to it. >> host: how many battles have you covered as an author? >> guest: oh, wow. define a battle, where people are shooting each other? >> host: i'm thinking fallujah. i'm thinking you've been if iraq, you've within in afghanistan, you've been in vietnam. >> guest: oh, you're talking a couple hundred. there are patterns to any war, and when i'm out there, i don't -- generally, i didn't wear armor out there. i relied on moving fast and tucking. [laughter] ducking. but of after a while you can see patterns in war, and you know what's, you know what's going on. and it differed tremendously. in vietnam when you were fighting the north vietnamese, they were terrific. and they would dig. they were like moles, and the earth was very, very soft. and they'd dig trenches about like this, and they'd get in that trench, and ten they'd have their ak rifle pointing at you. and you had to be on the ground flat because they were shooting
just about this high hitting you right about hip level. and they were great with mortars as well. i had a mortar la -- platoon for a while. i'm sure they'd say they were better. then you go to iraq, iraq was city fighting. it was more like weity in '68. -- wei city in '68. and the rpg, the rocket-propelled grenade, was the preferred weapon in iraq and to a large extent in afghanistan. when a yes maid goes off, it hits the side of a building, and it shatters the concrete, and it's the fragments that really can do a job on you. and you add to be very, very careful when you were moving around corners. but on the other hand, the person using the rpg has to expose himself because of the back blast. and if he makes the mistake of staying out there for more than three seconds, he's shot first. so it's entirely different than the jungles of vietnam. in afghanistan you had two different fights going on. up in the mountains, they
would -- they being the taliban -- would shoot at you from only, say, 500 yards away, but there'd be a huge crevasse between you and them, and it would take you six hours to get up to where they were shooting. when you get down south, they had what they call the green zone because there's one river that goes all the way to the south of afghanistan. and for about four miles on either side, you can grow anything; poppy, watermelon, corn, wheat. whatever, you name it. that was just like going back to vietnam. when i went to afghanistan and the techniques of fighting were almost similar to what i did in the village. sixty years ago. almost identical. >> host: bing west, where is the village? one of your first books. >> guest: well, the village in vietnam is south of demanage up near what used to be called the demilitarized zone, so it's all the way at the top of south
vietnam just before you get to north vietnam. and a dozen of us, one squad, were sent out there to work in the village with 5,000 vietnamese villagers and build a militia to defend the village. so i wrote the story of what happened to the 15 of us who went out there. and of the 15, seven were killed before it was over. but it was an adventure. and i don't think any of us would trade it ever again. every single night we'd go out, we'd get into a fight of some sort. but the villagers were on our side. it was entirely different than afghanistan. you can't put americans out in the villages in afghanistan. too many people would betray you one way or the other. it was more solid in vietnam. either they were with the viet cong or they weren't. but you didn't have this phenomenon you have of xenophobia in afghanistan whereas an outsider you're just rejected. no, that wasn't the case if
vietnam. the fighting was harder though. fighting was harder. >> host: how long -- what was the name of village? >> guest: ben neah. >> host: how long did you stay? >> guest: the marines stayed for about 385 days and then moved on. and i kept going back to see how things were going in the village. and when the north vietnamese came in in 1975, the first thing they did was take the plaque that had been dedicated to us by the villagers saying thank you for all your good work, and they were going to throw it in the river. and some of the villagers said, well, we'd like it. and so they kept it. when i went back to my village to visit in 2000, they showed me they still had the plaque. and then i was visiting with the village chief who had been a boy in our fort of 10 when i was there, and he said a word which means older brother, you know,
he said i have 10,000 in my village, what am i going to do with them all? i said, don't give me that, you won the war. he said you don't think hanoi cares about me? so needless to say, we made a donation, etc. but they felt an affiliation was we had -- because we had fought, even though we're on the other side from those who, ultimately, won. >> host: good afternoon and welcome to the booktv on c-span2. this is our monthly "in depth" program with one author, his or her body of work, and this month we are talking with military author and historian bing west. and mr. west began writing, by writing a field manual, a training manual in 1966, "small unit action in vietnam." the "the village," that we just talked about, came out in 1972, reissued in 2002. "the march up: taking baghdad with united states marines," came out in '04. "no true glory" came out the next year, and then "the strongest tribe," a new york
times bestseller, "war, politics and the end game in iraq," came out in 2008. "the wrong war," another bestseller, came out in 2011. and finally his book with dakota meyer, "into the fire: a firsthand account of the most extraordinary battle of the afghan war." one of themes -- and, by the way, if you'd like to participate in our conversation with mr. west, we're going to put the phone numbers up on the screen. we did them a little bit differently this month. we've divided them by veterans and nonveterans. given mr. west's background and what he writes about, we definitely want to hear from veterans. 202 is the area code, 585-3880 for veterans, nonveterans, 585-3881. if you can't get through on the phone lines, @booktv is our twitter handle, you can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or
leave a comment on our facebook beige, facebook.com/booktv. one of the themes in your iraq and your afghanistan books is how the enemy can hide in plain sight by not wearing uniforms. >> guest: and i don't think we've seen the end of this. it seems to me that if you put a uniform on and come against the american military, you're finished within two weeks. we are that good. and our overhead systems, you can have jets that are at 10,000 feet, and they can pick out people -- because i've seen this -- that are on the ground, and then you're on the ground, and you have a little telescope like this, and the picture shows up, and you can say, yeah, that's the right guy, hit him. so if you're wearing a uniform, you're finished. in iraq and afghanistan, no one
wore a uniform. how do you know who he is? you don't. we have to, i think, also try to figure out if we're going to ever do this again how to identify people. fingerprints or something. we just didn't do it. but if i were any enemy of united states, i would hide among the population, and i would take off my uniform and figure out another way of communicating with each other. >> host: does the u.s. use that strategy though? >> guest: i'm sorry? >> host: does the u.s. use that strategy? >> guest: in what way do you mean? >> host: not wearing uniforms, hiding amongst. infiltrating in that way. >> guest: oh, my goodness, no. i'm being a little bit careful here. we're not be talking about the cia and undercover people, we're just talking about the u.s. military. no, absolutely not. if you take off your uniform to, you're disobeying all the rules of law, you're sanctifying what the other side is doing. no. we would not do that. even our special forces.
they grow beards, but you can still see they're big americans, big, tough americans. >> host: bing west, in all the military history that you've covered, has the relationship between washington and troops on the ground improved, changed, worsened? >> guest: i think we have to be very careful. i'll put it this way, the generals really care about their people. but it's not a war where a general has much to do in iraq or afghanistan. it wasn't a general's war with. they couldn't maneuver forces. so you did find generals trying to give general orders like don't fire back at a compound if you think civilians are there. trying to impose things from the top that they should have left to those who are fighting on the ground. and there's nothing worse than a good colonel or a good general
trying to figure out what he's going to do when there isn't a lot for him to do. because he's smart, he's active, and he's going to do something. so i, i'd like to see a review of what we did in iraq and afghanistan done by the generals or by staffs and saying what did we get right, what did we get wrong. because i believe what we tried to do with counterinsurgency was wrong. we went too far with nation building. and that was from the generals on down. so i don't in any way denigrate the courage and the dedication of those at the top. but i get a little bit worried that they're not giving enough freedom to the troops to figure it out. >> host: how many soldiers did we lose in iraq, how many have we lost in afghanistan? >> guest: oh, approximately 5,000 in iraq and 3,000 in afghanistan. 2-3,000 in afghanistan the if you include coalition as well.
>> host: vietnam? >> guest: 50, about 50,000. >> host: why the difference? >> guest: well, as i said, there are two things going on. the entire nature of warfare that i have seen has changed. you're no longer just locking horns and fighting until the end. you get into a fight with the north vietnamese, either you're destroying them or they're destroying you. the same with the viet cong. with the tribes in afghanistan, if they're losing, they'll back off right away. and so you have a different nature. and i think that has to do with the other thing is our firepower. our firepower if you make the mistake of standing up against us for more than 15 years, we're going to have that air overhead, and we're going to be able to direct that air right down. so usually, most of the fire fights now include within about 10-15 minutes -- conclude within about 10-15 minutes. and then they've come up with
the ied which is pernicious. >> host: this is an e-mail that we received from richard krause and, of course, my computer just shut down -- [laughter] as i was going to this. and so i'll just type if again and pull it up. do you know a richard krause? does that name sound familiar to you? only because he says here: i respect mr. west very much. it's too long a story to tell you why. he is living proof you can influence a thinking and the lives of people you don't even know. he did mine, and this is the first opportunity i've had to tell him thank you. and he lives here in washington, d.c., and he says: one of the questions he asks, what about the history, what about history does the next generation of students in this country need to know? >> guest: wow. i would say our founding -- i would say our founding principles. more than thinking else.
more than anything else. how did the constitution come about. why did we fight. things that today people are forgetting. and what caused the spirit of america. and what will sustain the spirit of america. i think robert cay began has a book -- kagan has a book out that i think is terrific about the history of america up to 1900. but it isn't just one -- if i had to pick one thing, i'd start with the constitution. but beyond that it's just wanting to know the story of america and our narrative. >> host: jack in bothel, washington, please go ahead with your question or competent for author bing west -- comment for author bing west. >> caller: bing, chuck here. [laughter] >> guest: how are ya? >> caller: quick question. rules of engagement, we had lbj picking up the target, we had
recon by fire and free fire zones, and looking at the rules of engagement over there in afghanistan and iraq must be really impacting the to real and physical -- morale and physical and mental health of our troops. what do you think? >> host: now, who are we talking with here? >> guest: chuck is another marine. he's a a marine. infantry. >> host: and, chuck, where did you serve? >> guest: i served in the ninth marines with bing. >> host: in vietnam? >> caller: yeah. >> host: okay, thank you, sir. >> guest: it's a problem. of it's a problem, chuck. you cannot use artillery or air. when you're on the ground if you're in a fire fight, i mean, it's really changed from when we were there. you can't call it in. you call back to your battalion. of your battalion has a lawyer who's sitting there, and he's looking at the target on a video, because everyone has video now.
and he's discussing with pilots, the air officer in the battalion's discussing with the pilots. you are on the ground trying to explain the target, and you have a three or four-way debate a lot of times about whether or not you're going to strike because to one wants to kill a civilian. but it does, it does affect the troops. the troops are not -- i wouldn't use the word -- maybe some of them would say cynical. they're, i think we've gone too far with it. i don't believe we could fight a major war the way we're now trying to fight it. and everyone from a company -- no. everyone from are a whattal oncommander on -- battalion commander on down who's served in afghanistan is aware of this. so it's different from when we fought in vietnam. much different. >> host: what's the importance of tribes, especially in iraq and afghanistan? >> guest: well, let me go to iraq first because that's quite
different. iraq is absolutely flat, and you can drive from one end of iraq to the other in about six or seven hours on major highways. that means that the different tribes knew each other quite well. and 50% of the entire country is urbanized. so that you know who the other sheikhs are, and you know what the power structure is. and what happened in iraq that changed the entire war was that the marines were fighting out in a place called anbar and fallujah which is out toward the syrian border. and after about four years of fighting, this magnificent sheikh came forward, and he said we're tired of our sunnis fighting against you, and we're tired of al-qaeda, and we're tired of the shiites. we want to come over to your side. we want to come over to the side of the strongest tribe. general petraeus then came into country a couple months later and said, holy smokes, all of
these sunnis are willing to come over to our side, and he welcomed them, and he tipped the scale of the entire battle. because once they moved as one tribe, the rest of them followed -- the rest of them being the sunnis followed. now, the problem was we ended up then with a dictator -- that's what i call him -- the prime minister, maliki, who was so downright sectarian as a shiite that he has ruined the relationship with the sunnis, and the terrorists have come back into fallujah because he came down too hard on the sunnis. now, if i go over to afghanistan, you have about four or five major tribes but a hundred smaller tribes. and these tribes live in different parts of the mountains. and you do not have that uniformity. you don't have a way of getting to one sheikh and having him swing everybody else.
so it's much more fragmented in afghanistan than it was in iraq. >> host: will a fallujah go down in history like i iwo jima, midway, d day? i mean, is it a battle that will be studied and looked at? >> guest: well, i went through the two battles in fallujah, and the way i think they're going to be studied, i'm fortunate. i'm writing a book with this general mattis, this marine general who was this charge in fallujah, and when he was ordered out by the president, president bush said stop it, stop that, come back, and the chain of command said come back because they felt the political dynamics were working against them when mattis had his troops halfway across the city, mattis burst out, and he said for gosh sakes, sir, the you're going to take -- if you're going to take
vienna, take vienna. and that was the classic line from napoleon when one of his generals got to the outskirts of vienna and then didn't know what to do, started in, started out. he said, don't do it. so the restson i think people are going -- the lesson i think people are going to take from fallujah is we must be working between our generals and our policymakers much better than we are now. unfortunately, the current administration really isn't as close with the generals as they should be, so they work as a team. and i think that's the lesson that's going to be taken from fallujah. >> host: bing west, you also served in the pentagon. in what capacity and when? >> guest: i was the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs at the beginning of the ray a began administration -- reagan administration when it was fun. pause the budget was going up -- because the budget was going up. so wherever i went in the world because i was responsible for dealing with treaties in other countries, i could go to each of the chiefs and say, you know, i have to have some wampam.
what more than every head of state wants more than anything else are the scholarships we have to our war colleges because that is something he can give to his favorite nephew or a rising lieutenant or whatever. so i'd arrive in a city or a country, and the ambassador would say what have you got for me? i'd say i've got six scholarships and a dozen tanks. he'd say, okay, 50/50. of i'd say, done deal. and that way the ambassador was happy, i was happy, and whoever was in charge of the country was happy. so it was a fun time, and i'm a strong believer that giving these scholarships that we give to our war colleges is terrific to keep, to keep contact with armies and navies around the world. >> host: historically and contemporarily, who are some of your favorite or your host admired military leaders? >> guest: who are still alive
or -- >> host: or historically, sure. anyone. >> guest: oh, well, the first one that would come is secretary of defense schlesinger who just died. i don't think we've seen his like in quite some time because he was the secretary of defense -- i was his special assistant -- when saigon was falling. >> host: during the ford administration. >> guest: in 1975. and when everything was -- and he had also been the director of the cia, etc. but when everything was falling apart, he stood with the troops every single day and said we're going to stay together. and he kept encouraging them. he said they weren't, we weren't there, but he said, look, don't let your morale go down. what you did was noble. and then when they tried to cut the defense budget because everyone was just mad and they said -- he stood up, and he said these cuts are deep, savage and arbitrary, and president ford ultimately fired him. but he was determined to stand with the troops. and i watched the commandant of the marine corps, general
wilson, and, oh, general abrams who was the chief of staff of the army, they just loved jim schlesinger. the three of them got along so well because he stood by them. so my first person, i'd say, would be secretary schlesinger. the best combat leader that we have right now is general mattis, but he just retired. i think general odierno did much more than people though he did in iraq. so i think we've had, i'd put those three, odierno, mattis and schlesinger, as being -- >> host: and general odierno, currently army chief of staff, correct? >> >> guest: he is. he's the army chief of staff. >> host: leo's calling from the bronx. you're on booktv on c-span2 with bing west. >> caller: thank you for having me. my question is, i've seen on c-span michael scheuer, a retired cia analyst, speak.
and he said that saudi arabia is funding the most extreme mosques around the world including the ones in pakistan. and those mosques provide suicide bombers which attack american-nato troops in afghanistan. what's your take on that? >> guest: i have no reason to dispute what michael scheuer has said. absolutely no reason. trying to, trying to break the financial network, i think, is something that we just have to keep working at. but i have no reason to dispute that statement. >> host: paul, craig, arkansas. >> caller: i'll correct you, that's alaska. >> host: you know what? i always fete that ak mixed up -- get that ak mixed up. go ahead. >> caller: mr. bing, there's a pleasure talking to you about
the situation we face politically. i serve from, actually, '65 starting in rotc, went on active duty in '69, got out in '75. i was fortunate, i don't call myself a vietnam veteran because i was not in vietnam, but i did sit on 400,000 long tons of bombs in thailand. my daughter served in iraq, 2006-2007, as a blackhawk pilot, and for her fellow soldiers in her guard unit were shot down and killed with eight other people this in that helicopter. my heart is pumping right now because i'm so upset about the situation. what upsets me is going back all the way to the philippines when we had a general that said kill 'em all, man, woman and child. to win the war, and he won it. mcarthur, when we had our troops committed in korea, wassing with willing to go to nuclear war because he was
committed to win that war. right now these two wars that we've deny -- vietnam, iraq and afghanistan, they all refer to it as insurgency. and it was going pack to the philippines -- back to the philippines. a guerrilla war. and i feel -- now i just heard on tv today they're calling it instead of insurgency, referring to the situation that putin's facing in the ukraine, now they're going to call it and say he's going to be facing a guerrilla war. so my situation is i do not feel that we should commit our troops unless we're going to total war and willing to back them all the way. our politicians in washington, d.c. are willing to use our troops as some kind of political tool and commit them and let them die and then pull out. and i do not feel like that our troops should be committed unless it's survival. >> host: all right, paul, we got
the point. let's get an answer from bing west. >> guest: i think there's a lot of wisdom in what paul is saying. we rushed into these wars without thinking it through if in terms of what war meant, and then we tried to define it as we went. and i think that was wrong. you, paul, i think, is absolutely right. we started with president bush and president obama saying we're in this thing to win, and we're going to defeat. and then -- the taliban, and then it changed to we're not going to lose, and then it changed to we're going to stop their momentum. is i think -- so i think paul basically is correct in saying that policy leaders and the military leaders should sit down together and have a cold-eyed look at what they're doing. and i must say, though, paul,
that there is one thing. i was fortunate a couple times to go into the oval office when president reagan was there. there is something magisterial about going into the oval office. and i've talked to a lot had the of people about this. and the way you and i might talk to each other is not the way you talk to a president of the united states. so how you have these conversations so that everyone understands what you're going to do isn't as easy as it sounds. and when i read books about how people talk to the presidents, we all show so much deference that sometimes the reality of what the word "war" means e capes people. escapes people. >> host: society is disconnected from military, you write in "the strongest tribe," less than one in a hundred high school graduates serves in the infantry mentioned throughout that book. three-quarters of high school graduates do not meet military billion or mental entry
standards while ivy league graduates no longer feel an obligation to serve a tour this the military before getting on with their careers. >> guest: this is a, this is a question which gets back to your issue about what should people read about america. and i said really start with the constitution and the narrative of america, peter, that i think is -- that people are missing. we don't need many people in the military, and we're oversubscribed out of one out of a hundred going in. but you have to ask yourself if if you debt into a war -- if you get into a war, are we all in in this war, or is it that just one out of a hundred? and i think that the answer to that has to be a president who says this is our war and a congress that says this is our war. and i do feel that we've gotten too much into this, oh, i've even forgotten that we're fighting any longer. but that's a burden that i would
put back on the president and on the congress. i think the american people, if you ask them to sacrifice and they believed it was the sacrifice, would pull us more together. but if i said now let's sacrifice for afghanistan, people would say why do i want to sacrifice for afghanistan? so i think we have to align means and ends. and is say that there are -- say there are certain things we're going to fight for, ask we're going to fight for them as a country. >> host: i want to talk a little bit about i keith that and what happened there. start with this quote from your book. the attention happied upon hi keith that should damage our society when a single deed receives vastly more attention than a hundred tease of valor, the country is diminished. first of all, what happened in haditha and the role of the press. >> guest: well, what happened in haditha, and this is in 2005 to 2006, and this is a small town
in the middle of iraq, was that the unit that was sent in there had taken heavy casualties before in fallujah. and then in haditha, one of the veterans who was beloved by his platoon was blown to smithereens. i mean, really blown. in my judgment, they lost control. there was some fighting, but they went rushing around. they ran into houses, and before it was over, they had killed -- it may have been about 18 people, you know? civilians and women and some children. it was looked at exhaustively by the press saying, you know, this is an example of how this war is my lie, this is murder, we have these crazy people, etc. wait, this thing was wrong. it got out of control. but it got out of control because of some bad training, bad leadership down line. but it wasn't malice.
it wasn't fore thought. it wasn't let's go out and deliberately do something. it wasn't like me e lei. that wasn't haditha. haditha was guys getting blown up, you think you have to ore act. you do out poorly -- you do it poorly. all that stuff was wrong. but we have to keep some sort of balance. and i think for a while we got way out of balance. and it took a while to settle down. and that worried me about the press immediately leaping to conclusions before people really examined what happened on the ground. i'm not defending in any way what happened, but i am saying there was nothing -- and i was there, and i went on the ground, i talked to the survivors. there was nothing of malice aforethought. it was, in my judgment and others, that people dead not have enough control in a confusing situation.
>> host: what about the press and its reporting on military battle? >> guest: i think the press has been terrific. and i know some might disagree with me, but i'm going to say it. i think that the press, once you're embedded and out there, you can take to the bank what they're saying. because they'll be fired if they make things up. so the they describe -- if they describe an action and they give names, i believe it. that's what happened. different perspectives can cause you to select different things on a battlefield that your going to etch size -- you're going to emphasize, but overall i think they have done a very, very credible job of telling us what's happening. i think if anything, they've been too easy on saying that what they're seeing on the ground doesn't match the high that flew tin stuff that they hear about the strategy and that, you know, they haven't enough, in my judgment, said,
hey, wait a minute, this isn't what our troops are really doing. >> host: now, if you can't get through on the phone lines, you can also get through on social media to talk with author bing west. @booktv is our twitter handle, you can make a comment there, you can make a comment on facebook.com/booktv, and finally, senden e-mail to email@example.com. this is an e-mail from randy bowen in san antonio: does an all-volunteer military make it easier for politicians to throw the u.s. into conflict? >> guest: you know, that's interesting, randy. it -- maybe, you know? look, you're getting, this isn't my area of expertise, trying to analyze what goes on in a politician's brain. i wonder why people want to be politicians, you know? because you're kind of a strange cat to begin with. so i don't know. but i think there could be with a flippancy there more than we
would like because they feel they have no stake in the game. >> host: wayne, abilene, texas. good afternoon. >> caller: hi. i'm thinking about the cap program that you were part of, and what if that had been the way that the marines had operated and had done away with the almost suicidal search and destroy missions? and i'm thinking also down in three corps general westmoreland, his last day on duty was asked at the 5:00 follies how could the rocket attacks on saigon be stopped. he said, they couldn't then abrams showed up and said he was going to stop them. he pulled in the troops and did that. what if those tactics and the combined action program had taken place if many i corps? -- in i corps? also i've got a friend, jim ridgeway, who was over there are
'66 through the '70s, and the late '70s he told me he could walk over 75% of vietnam day or night unarmed. bill colby and a friend took a motorcycle trip down into the delta, and it really was a safe thing until congress made it a crime to send ammo and pol to the south vietnamese. >> host: he had a lot of acronyms in there, mr. west. >> guest: yes. let we start at the end. wayne, you're right. by is the 72 -- by 1972, i know that mr. colby, who later was director of the cia, he was an officer over there at time, he did drive around. he may have had a weapon somewhere in his jeep, but you could drive through most of vietnam by 1972 without being attacked. much more than you could today in anbar province in iraq or afghanistan. so you're absolutely right. there was a time in the late, in
about 1971, '72 when you could do that. your other question was the cap, the combined action program. it was what i wrote about in one of my books where you took squads of marines, a squad of marines, only 13 marines. you put them in a village with 5,000 vietnamese, and they would say to the farmers, we'll teach you how to fight small militia, 20 or 30 of you, and we'll teach you how to try to hold on to your village which is generally about three square miles to six square miles of territory. by fighting. by training as they went along. i have to tell you though, wayne, the one thing about that is you have to start with squads of, you know, tough marines in the first instance who have seen heavy combat, because that's how they were selected. you had to have had six months of combat before you could be selected. it would have been good if the army tried it more, but general
westmoreland didn't like it. but when general abrams did come in, he did do much more of it. >> host: did we send enough troops, in your view, into iraq to begin? >> guest: no. [laughter] that's easy to say. but, no, we did not. manifestly, we didn't when things got out of control so fast. how much could have, should have, would have, how much would that have changed? i don't know. but, again, i would come back to a more major point. what was happening between president bush, secretary rumsfeld -- who was the secretary of defense at the time -- and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff at the time, general moyers, was -- meyer, he was an air force general. and, therefore, he didn't have a background in that kind of war. and i don't think general franks
who was many charge did a particularly good job of sort of saying, look, this is the amount we should use. so looking back on it, no. but that was a decision made at the top. but it was the wrong decision. >> host: disbanding the iraqi army. >> guest: nuts. that's just plain nuts. i was down in a city, and general mattis was coming down, he was the marine division commander. and they were paying the iraqis who were getting out, because they had said you're going to disband the army. so the marines had agreed to pay them all about $100 apiece, just some money. we had thousands of iraqi soldiers lined up to get their $100 in front of pay windows. along comes the general, and they all stood at attention when he walked by. and the lieutenant colonel who was there at the time,
lieutenant colonel malay, turned to general mattis, and he said, sir, if you want a battalion, i'll give you a battalion. if you want a brigade, i'll give you a brigade. and mattis said, no, we've been told we have to disband them. they were willing to take control. we should have given it to the army. we could have kept control somehow. it was a huge mistake. >> host: bing west, what's the process of getting embedded as an author, a as a military writer for you? >> guest: well, for me it's -- i'm a grunt. i'm a marine grunt, so it's pretty easy, you know? if i want to go out there, they say go ahead. sometimes they'll say just don't get killed because that could be a problem for me, but aside from that -- but the average reporter, no problem. it just takes a while with the bureaucracy. but once you get out there and get with the troops, no problem.
it's always the bureaucrats and going through the system. but we have bureaucracies all over the place. but once you're down to a company or platoon level, you fit right in. >> host: where were you raised? >> guest: i'm sorry? >> host: where were you raised? >> guest: oh, boston. [laughter] and your father was a full-time marine or -- >> guest: no, no, no. my dad was a doctor, harvard medical school in eye and ear. but my uncles, both my uncles went into the marine corps as infantry. one was a private and the other one was a lieutenant. gradually, they fought all the campaigns. but every time a campaign would be over, they'd all come back to our house with all the other veterans with them. ..
sized hole for poker now appear to survive the battle, lost word is that 30s. my brother is a marine saluted a bold, volunteered, had to write the senator is spending too long in the philippines in writing to the actors choose into vietnam and he finally got to go. the arab man who had occurs nervous in the federal bomb first and indicted a young age aligned duty. a recipient of the marine corps law enforcement. having said that, as an older brother, like many moms i tend to break out into tears every time i hear of another soldier status. at about this from being the descenders older just being a teacher or african-american. i am sort of an avid history is other. the concept changed so that
world war i. we are fighting a different war against ideology now. despite the technological advances because the united states is so far superior, i have two totally different questions. the first is how do we fight this war against islam ideology number one? and i'm not trying to infer that islam is bad religion or anything like that, but the radical islam, how do we fight that, number one? in a totally different take, when i hear about congress and the freedom of information act release and more information about water wording, it better, i'm not sure if that the good thing because i don't think the general public has a need to know all that stuff were doing. be not all right, kathy. the marine corps is on for smith foundation has been based to
people -- three people, one by the name mr. ricci and jihads and dave gibbons and dan mike $5 million in a unique way. they gave $30,000 to every child as a scholarship if anyone killed in the marine corps or the fbi are in a any law-enforcement agency. their overhead for this is era. when the irs can at $55 million you run it out of the garage and they get the money right away. so it is a terrific organization. relatives to islam as, we are fighting an ideology of radical islam and we cannot win that site. we can keep smothering it down, but it will gradually burn itself out as a critical turning
point will come when seniormost one liters say this is wrong. he will not go to heaven by blowing up innocent civilians. until islam's leaders cannot say that you will go to and not to heaven, you will have people misguided and not to believe that by murdering other people, they will be forwarded by god and that is wrong. only islam can address that direct way. >> lloyd, charleston from the south carolina in the uri with being less. >> thank you very much. i don't know what you're officer ship was when he retired, but i will have to call you mr. west. in the early 50s the quantico marine corps base, the best years of the teenage/.
secretary of the navy made an honorary marine. but the u.s. army be at times 65 to 67. so i love the marines dearly. i think to ask you a question. everybody seems to call you as emotional tent to their voice, especially those who were more and it's hard to befriend top court in it to someone who did not go through a war. we're talking about years to iraq and dan in vietnam. you just can't do that in a short conversation. i'm just going to ask you a couple questions. i know quite a bit about the beginning of the war, the chinese fighting against the vietnamese to take over control of the town. ho chi minh was first and nationalists in the town.
he did not want china to be a part of p. at him. the next most important question i have this in the earliest book i read about vietnam was called a bright and shining lie. he was a "new york times" reporter and spent several years. >> host: lloyd, what is your question, or? >> caller: the question asked by you or one of the callers what his feelings were why we should've gone into vietnam. he said to be a little in the voip are a good reason and that reason. well i just kind of go towards the back reason. but i grew with them also because it's a very difficult question to answer. i wanted to know why. >> host: i was told that, i apologize. if you could quickly get to the
negative your question. >> host: if you read a bright and shining lie -- >> host: thank you, sir, we got the point. >> bright shining lie was one reporter's perspective from john palfrey and he spent his entire life in the non-diet air. it questioned whether it was worth the effort. i may know, she going to have this development. what was the other part of the question, peter? >> guest: mcnamara -- don't get me going to mcnamara. the man is a disgrace. if you're the secretary of defense in your troops are war come you stand behind your troops and you don't try to undercut them -- excuse me for
getting excited myself. you don't try to undercut your own troops by saying to the president we should do this or the other thing have a peace treaty or some pain. no, you are the secretary of defense. you are not the secretary of quitting. if you don't want to be secretary of defense, quit. don't go behind the back of your own troops. >> host: being last, the afghan elections purchased out yesterday. is there anyone who is your favorite candidate? doesn't matter? hamid karzai, how did he do? >> guest: why i believe what i said much earlier than we should've just gotten a manner, giving them aid and opposite. karzai, the best i can say is all the synopsis don't close in the brain. that is being time. he unkindest that he is cunning,
but he is putting his own ego in front of the welfare of his own nation, which is a disgrace. i think it makes a little bit different who the next president is at afghanistan, but not a big difference. afghanistan, 90% methane is going to happen and we'll forget about it. it's not going to be like saigon. for north vietnam to get to saigon, they needed tanks. they needed artillery and they needed trucks. taliban has none of that status in pakistan is it going to give it to them. adelphia taliban gaining control. the only hope over the future for 10 is the next president is
a real leader, but i can't predict that. >> host: should we leave an american force and asking if dan? >> guest: i believe it is that the critical that we live a force there for a morale reason. napoleon once said the moral is to the physical is three to four to. afghanistan the moralist to the physical is 20 or or 30 to one. if the afghan army that we are paying for the leaves we have left completely, they are going to fall apart. and i believe every single senior, military officer has said that president obama and he knows it and he's hoping he can cut some sort of deal with the next president. whoever the next president at afghanistan he is going to date
please do here and we'll leave about thousand troops. >> host: bing west, one of his books, "the wrong war." this is booktv's book club selection for this month. if you would like to read a lot, our current strategy they are, participate in our book club for the month of april. you'll see a tab at the top that says bookclub. he can make your comments they are. can respond to questions that are posted on our book club page and over the past couple months, they have participated and perhaps will also click on bookclub. and comment directly. if you'd like to read along, "the wrong war" is booktv selection for april. max collet is in yampa colorado.
>> host: first off span. in 1968 incident then i've read a lot of books looking for the answer if anybody had one and agree and disagree with some of them. and then i read mark morris book, triumph for stake in and to me it's been the bright light that everything came together with that. i was wondering if mr. west has read that book and if you could comment on it. i plan to read a lot of books after this program. postcode gary, what is herein there? >> guest: i think some of the reporters cost out or end there were some mistakes made by kennedy and stuff and henry
cabot lodge and stuff like that. after we got in there, we should've won it. they did not the stomach for it. i think we should've stayed there. all you have to do is look at the people and see that maybe we should've stayed there and settled the country down before we left. >> host: bing west >> guest: i believe that mark moyers spoke and marked as an historian is very at earl. he is a serious scholar. the interesting thing that his study point out is the degree to leadership that actually existed in the armed forces of tom but they never got credit for.
i tend to come down that if you look at how well the viet means, both people have done since they've come to the united states. i was just back in vietnam last year. americans their beloved everywhere. if we had shown a little more tenacity and a little more kurdish, it could've turned out quite differently. postcode bing west, and set to come secretary of state condoleezza rice are in the campaign bush's foreign policy at guys there had written the president must remember the military is a special instrument. it is lethal and it's meant to be. it is not a political referee and it is most search may not design to the a civilian society. yet because the state department had not stepped forward in iraq, the u.s. military was a police force and a political referee.
>> host: >> guest: and? >> host: what is the departments and what should be the state's role in conflict? >> host: >> guest: there's only two agencies that do something. and serious, just two. the department of defense and the cia. no one asked has a mental attitude and a culture that says let's get the job done. the state department are trained not to resolve anything. i mean, the state department's culture is to get along with other countries, not to go out and solve a problem. that culture is incapable of nationbuilding. so is the military. i just don't believe in nationbuilding. the state department didn't do a
darn thing in iraq or afghanistan. they really didn't. our military was fed up with it. it's so ingrained to go to the state department. i don't care if secretaries ate a scary or race i don't care who they are and tell them, colin solve a problem. i'm not in the problem-solving business. i'm in the negotiating business about how you don't love the problem. so is hopeless to think the state department to do the job. >> host: should we have left the force in iraq? >> guest: absolutely. several whole deserve not to be respected for that decision starting with president bush. for president bush to rot if they are, done had going to get it to maliki and he says how proud he is to say i'm getting everything out of here and people are saying why can't
karsay -- karzai be more like maliki? after when you that maliki was sectarian. president bush said i'm going to leave it to somebody else. president obama said you're not going to leave it to me and supposedly they say general petraeus and general odierno went along with it. there's plenty to go around. the question is should we have kept troops in iraq? positively. only to keep maliki from being the radical sectarian deity showed he is. with lots solution. we go and say in iraq and afghanistan because we say we don't want them to be safe havens. hello, they are now in falluja. so i've been cnn's got all screwed up than i do not excuse the peak oil at the top. postcode days, baltimore, you
i'd tv a beast into which the west. >> host: is really a pleasure to talk to a thoughtful person on the veteran died. i like to think true warriors speculate on ways to add war. can you think of any tactics we who are working for non-violent should be using? you guys have all the resources, but you sound like a great addition. >> host: wait a minute now. i am attacked titian who likes to plug people, not give them money. i am not persuaded -- i am not persuaded that we can do much in nonviolent means of altering other nations. i'm not persuaded we can do much with violence either. i'm afraid we wouldn't have a
tactical device. >> host: were you aware if viet, the protest going on? >> guest: yes. poster what was the effect that from your good? >> guest: anger. >> host: what about the draftees? >> guest: i cannot comment on that because marine corps to the end where draftees. but you know, both the marine corps and the army fell apart. we had the radical black movement. and we had drugs. we had disobedient and it all started after wild people said what is this all about? it tumbled down until the mid-19th century nason is the army and marine corps said we are not putting up with this anymore. if you're not willing to live by
rules come you are out. to change the culture. that did not happen after afghanistan and iraq and that is to the credit of assistance. we haven't had a morale. we are oversubscribed. we've done a much better job. >> host: how serious was to problem? dgc at first hand? >> guest: i did not. i did not because the front line units when you are out with the platoon, number one, you are out there somewhere. and number two, i was considered by units to be good. the lieutenants are on top of it. if you're out there with 40 guys come you know it's everyone's doing. that's the same in iraq and afghanistan, and do. we haven't had problems with drugs in iraq and afghanistan. afghanistan is loaded with
drugs. that's another thing i don't like about what we have been doing their because there is great collusion among the farmers and the taliban enter dealers to get money out the drugs and they know it's wrong. so we are fighting a war on drugs here in the united states. that is a messy thing. there's no evidence that our troops either in iraq or can i subscribe to using drugs. >> host: one of the things you hear is the afghanistan wait us out. we will leave and then go back to what they want to do. >> guest: i think that's true. i think that's absolutely true. i'm finishing up a which is about this marine platoon in an obscure district of southern afghanistan. this marine platoon fought for six months. they lived in caves outside friendly lines.
of the 52 variants, 26 were killed in one day. a wonderful camaraderie in that group. but they had no illusions about what was going to happen when they left because the farmers were getting paid four times as much in the taliban said we will split up but you. they saw the government coming in and said either taking a cut or telling them not to go. so i believe you are going to see many afghans working out deals that will never understand. go do it the afghan way. >> host: bing west are coming are you going back to afghanistan? you have plans to go back? >> guest: americans are no longer allowed to go out and combats to abort me. i won't go back to afghanistan just to sit and operations center. i'm not going to go on patrol
joseph afghans. >> host: why not? >> guest: because i can't trust them. >> host: afghans, the best i can say about the afghan army is if you had eighth-graders and you have a poor teacher so they can get unruly in a hurry because the teacher doesn't keep discipline. you don't know among them which is apt to do something really. they have to figure out all of that for themselves. but what is troubling is occasionally one of them turns around and just chose a westerner. the reasons he chose a westerner, nobody really understands. so it is fraught with white ticker risks just to get yourself shot for no good reason? >> host: what kind of troops to our trainees get this going into troops could cultural
training. >> guest: i'm not good on the cultural training. our troops are intelligent. every single one of our troops without exception has graduated in the top 50%. they get it. they get all this staff. but the war is over for them. the biggest challenge that i thought was a cultural things people talked about. it was we never figured out a way of dealing with the ieds are killed us. the ied is just two pieces of good and one wire comes out to a little flashlight hattery. the other goes to a job full of ammonium nitrate, which is a fertilizer. if you pour some gasoline or fuel oil to the ammonium nitrate, when you walk along that put two pieces of wood underneath the earth and when
you walk by, you step on it. the wires connects. it sends the flash goes off your legs. we have lost 60% of our casualties due to that one phenomenon throughout afghanistan and we never found a lathe echidna networks that were doing it because unlike in vietnam, the police are very effect did i kidding espied network. we have not been able to get a spy network places like saying and where wes for a long time coming that could enable us to understand who's doing last night after night after night. so it's not the cultural name. the tribes would not turn in the taliban. they would do it.
>> host: steve asks via facebook, what are your thoughts about today's right wing demagogues for tv and talk radio who never served in the military at that our weakest warmongers? >> guest: number one, i am not in that kind of stuff. numbers two, i don't see that. we didn't do anything about ukraine. we didn't do anything about syria. i don't see any organized movement in the united states for us to get involved anywhere. we have to be very careful that we are not just withdrawing from the world cutting our defense budget imprudently. so i don't see anybody stirring up war term anyway. postcode keith, malcolm burke, arkansas. >> caller: how are you doing?
thank you very much for c-span. bing west, you are something else, man. i have listened you for an hour and listen to everything you said. i went in the marine corps would notice 15 and a half years old. i fight for this country and that uncle was marine corps. we buried him what they want to salute. because they will be better -- albeit they are not bakula. you don't have to look to see if they are behind you because they are there and i'm going to be there and still i my last breath. i love you, mr. bing. good night. >> guest: thank you. it is true the marines do have the spirit. it may be because they are a very small outfit. the few, the proud.
but the commandant of the marine corps says only he gets to say what somebody can leave the marines and he's trying to build a list of everyone who served in the marine corps and he insists he'll call us back at any time. >> host: we have a think a semi-facetious e-mail here. of course now i can't find it but it's about the marines in the army and hopefully i'll feel to find it. why did the marines do things the right way? >> you're not going to go there? >> guest: we are your uniforms. christian in oklahoma city. >> caller: good morning. glass gentlemen, i really feel for you, but we need to ask, why would bush send our boys and girls to iraq, it were a choice without the private government.
we love our servicemen are spirit i do also. understand us once again. tell them about this because you know more than i do. there's no reason for us to go in iraq. they are without the armament. it is just disgusting to me i get so upset because i have republicans and fox news and always wants to say something. the gentleman in benghazi had the opportunity to have other military hope. but he didn't want that. yet they don't -- in the same breath they don't talk about what bush did, sending our boys and girls to a war of choice without the proper government. >> host: christian, we've got your point. >> guest: thank you, christian. the interesting thing was the secretary of state, colin powell
who is a terrific chairman of the joint chiefs of staff what to president bush and i think maybe even president bush's father as well. but definitely secretary powell and fanfare, we have to go to the congress. we should go to the congress and the united nations. they did go to the congress and the united nations. so pleasant just president bush. we all as the country went into iraq and then you get into the funny things about politicians or later, senator kerry who is our secretary of state that, while, i was against the war before i was in favor of the word before it is against the war. it is one of those things that have to with 2020 fish and we could say was the wrong thing to do, but we all did it together. >> host: mustapha how to treat studio can you explain more about the black problem in the
non-that you mentioned earlier? >> guest: the whole notion of a forget what it's called, students for the democratic society, the military was not immune and from everything affecting on the campuses in the united states. in 1968 probably hit its peak about 1972. you had a lot of uproar about how we could change society and many young bracts feeling they should be more vociferous. the problem if you're in the military, you want to treat everybody only and everyone has to obey the same rules and you can't have any group beginning to say we want rules. there's a definite problem for a while. >> host: bing west is the author of several nonfiction books and nonfiction, which will
ask about later. but he wrote a training manual first volume in action vietnam in 1966. he wrote the village in 1972. 15 what did it what's sad is the subtitle. march upcoming taking baghdad with u.s. marines came out in 04. if an account of the battle for falluja in 05. "the strongest tribe" came out in 2008. and "the wrong war," strategy and the way out of the interesting came out in 2011. that is book club selection if you'd like to read a long period into the fire, a first-hand account of the most extraordinary battle of the afghan war, with dakota meyer in 2012. we always ask iraq is what they are reading, what some of their influences are, what their favorite bookseller. here is a little bit of bing
three paragraphs explain it to you i think is brilliant. post code you wrote a novel as well. just go yeah, i did. if you write a novel and you can into your care dear, sometimes they run away, but you can try and figure out the ending. so i'd love to do more novel writing. the problem is making a living and most people who buy novels tend to be women between the ages of 40 and 65. it's not my natural audience because i novel was an adventure story about going across the country and fighting hard. unfortunately, i have two more books i am still working on, so i'm stuck on the nonfiction. but in my heart above to write
fiction. >> host: who are the pepper talks? >> guest: five during recon reserve this who are in superb shape and one of them is captured in bosnia and the other four decided they would get in back. they disobeyed orders, but they also tried to get into the next coming of a technology are going to enable us to go without sleep for long periods of time and also you can replace and add to your red blood cells so you can run faster and longer and then with the new technologies we have for the internet, you can be communicating anywhere in the world. i try to put all this together to show how you could end up was for superb at late on the hunt, moving 60 miles a day and the rest of the world is watching us, trying to figure out how to
send in the president meanwhile seen how do i get these guys under troll? >> host: you mentioned you were born during world war ii, bing west. that puts you in your late axes, early 70s. what does your wife thinking about your running off to afghanistan or iraq with the american military? >> guest: after a while after you're dead 20 or 25 trips, betsy has recognized i'm going to be a little bit natty and she just has to tolerate that. >> host: the gist of it. why do you list to just do it as of your greatest? >> guest: jazz duets insist you learned not, greek and english and if you don't know a sensible paragraph, you're out. they have a great influence on me in terms of structuring
writing so a dissent will and concise. >> host: what can we learn from ancient military history? the spartans, et cetera? >> guest: i believe when you look back very certain commonalities that combat you over time. the first one i saved if you get into work, you have to be ferocious beard you have to be fierce. you have to be a lawyer and that brings with it a set of care or sticks. you have to be hired. you have to have a definite sense of achievement and you have to have a cohesion in units. it doesn't mean you have to be moral. so i'm not trying -- you can be a german soldier. so if you look at history, you can recognize good leaders and bad leaders in terms of variety, but other things trend and if you're going to go on a battlefield and you've got to have been.
it isn't because you're a good nation or bad nation. if you send someone into combat company better if given them the right training and leadership so he has a cohesion and desire to win. >> host: when you look at the technology we have been developing particularly drugs, what is your view? >> guest: what interests me is why do we care whether it is a drug? i don't care. you're killing a person one way or another but the person and the cop hater not. somehow the entire world has except did it if you are looking at a video and popping the guy and there's nobody in the drone, that is a little bit different than having the pilot. you expect her to go somewhere with a drone that we camp at the pilot. i will send that road overture do the work. but i don't if that is a deciding factor in what you are doing.
more than anything when ac is that the deciding various at least taken for granted in such a way, which wasn't there at all of world war ii that no pilot is killed any more combat. i mean, we've done away with that. with perfect control control of the skies and that has given us a different way of fighting. you look at a possible enemy like china anywhere in the next 10 or 20 years, now that is going to change again. so we've become a little bit too could face an because we have superiority today and we just think lavin in the future. that's what worries me about cutting the defense budget because you have to build these platforms that are going to be there 20 years from now were more. in vietnam, i was on a helicopter caudate ch 46
helicopter. we are still using it today. if you don't know things, they are not going to be there for the future. i don't care whether it is a trove for the guys in an aircraft. >> host: do you see china as a potential enemy? >> guest: let's be careful of the word enemy. but they adversary. they made no bones about it. they said the pacific should be our lake. okay, we are going to say no. we are not going to allow that. so you do get japan to japan is worried about this now because they are saying you promise the ukraine you're going to help them but you didn't. what happens if china pushes us around a little more? so do we have a problem in the future? share, as honesty of human being in the face of this earth coming you're going to have adversaries. >> host: bing west is our guest on c-span2.
look at the numbers on the screen if you'd like to participate. (202)585-3880. we want to hear from you. military historian and author not better, do it to friday 5381 is the number for you to dial. if you can't get or via the phone line@but tedious or twitter handle. they spoke.com/booktv. if you'd like to leave a comment they are. you can send an e-mail at c-span.or. we have an e-mail from john and he says the end of the vietnam war was a perfect ending. we do not have a force today and after inh trade and a sense better than world war ii. best book on vietnam. he says the end was perfect -- it is the perfect ending because they are friendly and retrain
them. >> host: i'm sorry, but john, anger is younger than i am. when saigon fell, the morale in the united states plummeted and i think morale makes a big difference. three. call it president carter's president he and he was not reelected. people believed president carter just didn't stand up for her right then we had a lot of us curvaceous going on. we have to be very careful. other countries look at us and they'll determine, can you push america third things or can't you? if you lose four, genetically the way we lost vietnam, there's a consequence. secretary of defense gates who just retired said in his book, i just want to a void a disastrous
defeat for a pic global humiliation in the end, which is the minimum. but he felt there was a minimum below which you cannot go. i hate to see us test your hypothesis, john, that we could have afghanistan disintegrate and trade within a couple years later. >> host: what is the long-term effect of what has happened in iraq and afghanistan if another workers? >> guest: several things come to my mind. one of the long-term effects as if the other side is not wearing uniforms and stayed among the civilians, which i advocate they should do, we never resolved how to handle that. even though we don't tape prisoners anymore, it used to be traditional in warfare when you
broke through the lines of the other side, it had uniforms on inuit and it capturing or for every person you killed. we only had a handful of praise nurse in iraq and then that we gave back to those two countries and then they let them go. so we haven't figured out how to fight people who don't have uniforms? would you do it to? that's unresolved although it to the supreme court. i was saying the future work, not have uniforms and what you do with prisoners is still unresolved. restrictions right now on fire are huge on firepower. if you lose more americans come you might start changing those restrictions. i don't think we've thought through that when it either. in ground combat i can see changes coming. air force and navy iges choctaw because you know that our navy hasn't got a worsened 1945.
so the question is how at the navy fight if it has to fight? we don't know. the air force has perfect air superiority. our ground forces have been on this combat it. now an air force and navy don't. >> host: bing west come if you care to venture a thought when it comes ukraine and russia? >> guest: gas. i would definitely give arms to the ukraine rather than withhold them. i would absolutely begin to allow natural gas to be exported. president obama is much for green energy and therefore we have 14 port that avast four authority from the federal government to compressed natural gas, liquefied it and export to
europe. i positively would do that and a signal to russia, you want to play the game of who was going to lose economically, i am going to show you that you will lose economically. those are my casual thoughts. >> host: bing west has written about the vietnam war, rapport and afghanistan more. you mentioned earlier you are fighting a new book. what is it about? >> guest: i am writing to simultaneously. one is called 1 million cents. a marine platoon out word because this marine platoon in southern afghanistan that i was with, they were not every single day for x and they walked about two and a half miles every day and i calculated if they got through that too or they would've fought 1 million steps, never knowing where the ied, where the landmine was and they lost half their floors.
on the last date they were a, they were going out further if any other day. what i try to explain us what happened to cohesion? how does the platoon despite its losses, despite losing it leaders to get the other leaders in continuing what caused that to be so give? that is one book i am writing. that's a book about combat cohesion. i met general james mattis who retired, he has a very large view about readership and more and so i am collaborating with him on a book about strategy and leadership going forward. so that is what's keeping me busy. >> host: if someone were to pick up your training manual from 1966, small unit action, what would they learn? >> guest: if they had thought in afghanistan, david c. at the beginning of it, holy smokes.
if i just changed the names, i am in afghanistan. when they get in the heavy battles that dma say we never fought that much. the similarities in the fighting style and what i call the green, which is a great area of afghanistan was remarkably several to vietnam. the other thing everyone would recognize is fighting not that level in a platoon, it hasn't changed that much in 70 years. i keep going back with platoon saw the time. changes are saul. no pilot would possibly get into an aircraft today and say i can type this aircraft if he had flown an aircraft in 1965. so ground forces or ground, have not changed as much as the rest of our forces. >> host: warrant in tyler texas e-mails it to you, i agree with the quote of condoleezza
rice, why is the military used for other missions? we've been involved since world war i at the different regions. nationbuilding. how can we stop the thought process we must be involved in? >> guest: what was the gentleman's name again? post-cold war and. i think it's a woman. >> guest: this is wrong. we should not have made this staff and actually admired the man, but as general david petraeus who signed the documents say in our and marines had to be nation builders as well as warriors. i believe that sentence should be burned, stamped out, you raced. get rid of it. so far, the military has an unwilling to look at iraq and afghanistan and say did we undertake too much?
they are still using the stop to the messed up dreams are wrong. the military should not be nation builders. >> host: gary shattuck and marie retired u.s. attorney e-mail said, i object to your statement that states absolutely nothing in iraq. he says, i was a member of the department of justice team that went into bag that in 2003 to assess the judicial system to provide support in take recommendations to get them back into service. we did much good work and identified problem judges and prosecutors concede that they were removed from service and assisting in getting the court that to working. i respectfully said that you qualify your state and to reflect there was indeed much good work down on the iraqi's behalf by american civilians. >> host: gary, i will qualify my statement.
you speak in overall terms. you're quite right. i certainly did not mean to denigrate the good work of any individual. but i would stand by what i said over all. look at the judicial system we have today in iraq or they take all the sunnis in with them in jail. while, they say the vice president who is a sunni is somehow a criminal and they want to put up on murder charges. the fact is if we look at it, no matter what we did, no matter what her attorney general system did, we didn't change the nature of the maliki government. and so, we cannot say we have the rule of law today in iraq. if we had the rule of law today in iraq, we would not have the terrorists have been taken to lucia again. the only reason they did that is sunnis were so discouraged by the maliki government and its
judicial system that they said to heck with the government, we are going to allow the terrorists to come back. it is not that individuals didn't do well, but we never cemented it. >> host: and are left in our program of bing west and john and barry for not coming you are on the air. >> caller: yes, i was ephedrine at the vietnam war, which is the southeast asian war as far as i can turn. special ops in northern thailand. we repaired xga when robert mcnamara and lyndon been decided to micromanage the war and they called bombing halt. our aircraft classes went off i may base. we had air rescue a jolly green giant and it got so bad that her morning straight regimes, we
changed the name of of them to the banana and water buffalo account because those were the only targets that are pilots could go after without prior authorization from lynn did and robert. we almost had a pilots strike. i am not kidding. it dawned on me in september of bag here that we weren't theirs to win anymore. and it is very demoralizing and i was even more allies when we got back to america. i think on the fifth anniversary coming we really need to say thanks to people like yourself. even at this late, they are appreciated. i would like your dots.
a cab company said it earlier in the show that you can't win a war from the top down. thank you. >> guest: that's interesting along the following lines that president johnson and secretary mcnamara set such a bad example that president george w. bush said i am never going to do that as president. but i believe that president bush may have gone a little bit too far and not fundamentally sane to the generals, now let's all together and make sure we all in this and each other. president roosevelt eight he could probably the best job i've been in halt without giving direct orders. i am concerned from what i hear for many will that president
obama is to remove from his military. there has to be a balance where you don't become president johnson, but you don't become too removed either. you have to hit the intermediate position in president roosevelt is the classic example of a president who did it correctly. >> host: from no true glory, a frontline account of the battle for falluja. the singular lesson is clear. when you send soldiers into battle, let them finish the fight. for marines to attack and calling them off and then sending them back and constituted a flawed set of strategic decisions. american soldiers are not political bargaining chips. they fight for one another for winning the battle and for their country's cause. you criticized robert mcnamara for turning his back on the troops in vietnam. can you explain the full context
of what mr. mcnamara did? >> guest: the full context is that mr. mcnamara lost his sense of purpose in the lord. he started to question, what are we doing there in the first place? and then he began to look for a way of associating with the others died. and he used his power because he had more power and the secretary of defense, secretary of state rusk to get into areas where he shouldn't have gone, but he was looking for would have had the sense or to negotiated peace when he's the secretary of defense. ..
anybody behind, especially your ambassador -- [laughter] rather than the larger picture. the larger picture didn't set in until several months later. >> host: isn't that the ambassador's job, to be the last out? or am i wrong about that? get him or her to safety? >> guest: well, holy cow, i mean, they were coming with tanks. at some particular point, you have to say, mr. ambassador, the military says we're leaving, get on the darn plane and let's get out of here. so that's why you have, i mean, the scramble at the end? oh, it was terrible. and leaving behind all those -- it was awful. but the focus at the time was just extracting them. so it wasn't until later that the full imbolter of watching -- imbolter of watching the helicopter taking off and hands reaching up to grab it, that didn't set in that day. that set in over the course of the next month or so.
>> host: bing west, being at the pentagon during all of that, what was -- was it chaotic? were you working closely with saigon? what was the coordination? >> guest: awkward. secretary of state kissinger had his own opinions. president ford was not really that involved. the military were right there in the secretary's office, and the people in saigon were saying, hey, we're having a hard time getting a hand -- we don't have a clear chain of command where everyone has to report to one person, and that one person will have the final authority. and then everything was chaos at the time. so it was, washington wasn't really directing it toward the end. it was being done by the people on the ground in saigon. >> host: james in bellevue, washington, thanks for holding.
you're on with author bing west. >> caller: hello, bing. >> guest: hi. >> caller: great program, c-span. bing, i'm a private in the army. i have a son who's a warrant officer, two years in iraq, one year in afghanistan. i have a grandson, our only grandchild, who just finished u.s. army basic training at fort benning, georgia. so we're a family that have put our lives on the line. i happen to be very fortunate, i served in fort monroe, virginia, when general john waters, general patton's son-in-law, and general truman, harry truman's nephew, had continental army command. then i was two years many in the special forces reserve. went back down through fort benning, went through jump school. now, i've written a book about rock hill, the story of a young boy growing up at the end of world war ii. we were fighting the krauts.
america was at its best. we were loved the world over. i had an afterword where i compared the country then with the country now. my editor told he, jim, you have to take that out. you've written a second book. and the second book i want to read one thing. c-span, don't interrupt me. you don't interrupt people on the west coast. this is a very, very brilliant man, and he writes from the standpoint of the private like i was and the grunt. it's an honor to speak to you, and it's an honor for c-span to have you on their channel. i go a-w, and american military, number six is military drone aircraft. those who object to the use of drone aircraft to fight terrorism should join the u.s. army regardless of age, sex or religion. pick up a rifle and go to the tribal territories of pakistan and fire away. or better yet, send your children to die by the hands of
people who hate the united states of america and all the freedoms we stand and fight for. now, we've got a $20 trillion debt, and we've got young people putting their lives on the line. i went through jump school with the marine pathfinder group. i have such admiration for those folks. i hope they made it through vietnam. >> host: all right, james, we're going to leave it there. thank you for calling in. bing west responds. >> guest: the $20 trillion debt, i do agree with those who say that the most pressing danger we face is in our inability as a country and our politicians to recognize that we keep adding to the debt. we haven't resolved social security, medicare, medicaid, and we know that we're adding
the taxes to our children. and so that, i would say that swamps any other national security issue. >> host: patrick casey, e-mail. mr. west, how have our two wars in iraq, the bombing of libya and drone strikes in yemen benefited the average american in -- the average american? >> guest: oh, tremendously. the average american is all of us. we're one america. we were killed, we were murder murdered. we lost 3,000 americans at the twin towers. we know that we aren gauged -- we are engaged in a war against radical islamist terrorists who wish to kill all americans. how has it benefited us to fight back? the answer is clearly if you don't fight back, you're
finished. >> host: alabama -- abdul in salem, oregon. please go ahead. >> caller: good amp. i'm a proud naturalized citizen of the united states, and i really appreciate in the program , and to the honorable guest, it's great for you guys to talk my call. >> host: abdul, where are you from originally? >> caller: i was born in afghanistan, and i came to the united states a political refugee after, during the soviet union invasion of afghanistan. >> host: okay, thank you. please go ahead with your question or comment, sir. diswrk yes, thank you. [laughter] thank you, again. yes, my comment is a concern about the title of the book.
the title is "the wrong war." i don't think it's the wrong war. i would call it a noble, a good war for a noble cause and can't to be the case. and continue to be the case. but the war is fought in the wrong places. and with the wrong people. the battleground is the wrong battleground. we know the origin of this criminals coming from where and supporters from who and by who. i don't want to name those issues, but everybody is clear and understand those things. >> host: and, abdul, where, in your view, should that right war be fought? and. >> caller: i think this is a right war from the beginning to the end. of course, there are some people call it different ways in different situation, but totally understand. i go for the war. >> host: right. but you said it's being fought in the wrong place.
where's -- >> caller: wrong place, yes. i mean by wrong place these are wrong place is afghanistan. the afghan people, the vast majority of afghan people including the so-called taliban, they are the victim of the people who support them and all the policies or whatever -- >> host: so, abdul, where's the right place? where do you think -- is it pakistan? >> caller: right place, yes, pakistan. saudi arabia -- >> host: all right. >> caller: -- qatar and all those countries and the political organization that support this. >> host: all right. abdul, we'll get a response from bing west in just a minute, but what do you remember -- did you come over in about 1979 to the u.s.? and do you remember anything about the soviets coming in? >> caller: absolutely. they put me in jail. i was in jail, political prisoner, for one year.
in afghanistan, in kabul. and then when the soviet union came to the united states as a political -- [inaudible] to release the political prisoners, and then i was released. then few months later i escape the pakistan and became refugee with my family. and from there on i applied political refugee to different countries, but i decided to come to the united states. then i came to united states in 1981 as a pretty call refugee -- political refugee, and 35 years later i become a citizen, which i'm proud of it. >> host: thank you, sir, for calling in from salem, oregon. bing west responds for that caller. >> guest: well, abdul is right. pakistan is behind this, and we don't know what to do about pakistan. pakistan has 50 nuclear weapons.
they did, they continue to give sanctuary, 1500 miles of sanctuary to the taliban. if the taliban did not have that sanctuary, this war would have ended quite some time ago. finish we -- we have no national policy for persuading pakistan to change who they are, and they're determined to keep the taliban as a cat's paw so that india doesn't get too much leverage against kabul. now, i know you're saying, well, wait, wait, india's over here to the east, they think the indians are going to go around and come into afghanistan? but that's how the pakistanis, too many of them, think. is abdul is correct that we cannot talk about this or war without acknowledging the complicity of pakistan, and we -- without acknowledging the complicity of money that comes from saudi arabia and other places to help the there arists.
the terrortists. the other thing i'd say though, abdul, and i know i was gratified that you said that you're proud you're now an american. i do hope that our state department does something about many like you. we have about 2-5,000 loyal afghans who have given their loyalty to our forces in afghanistan and are our translators. and we're not bringing them here because we're afraid that one out of all of them might be a terrorist or something. and i'd hate to leave them all behind. so i hope, abdul, that we will allow more afghans who have served us very, very well to come to the united states. >> host: and bing west writes in "the wrong war," the strengths of the taliban are their islamist fervor and the sanctuary pakistan is determined
to remain a supporter of some taliban cliques in case the u.s. quits the war and the extremists again seize power. as long as pakistani territory remains a sanctuary, the war will not end. >> guest: correct. >> host: martha, irvine, california. >> caller: hello. sir, from -- mr. west, two quick questions. why do you suppose mcnamara, given his strategic knowledge, was not as motivated to go to war in cuba as he was in vietnam? and, two, how do you feel about george can than's 1946 memo stressing a policy and some strategy of containment versus paul nietzsche in '68 where containment should be global and militarized? thank you. >> host: martha, how do you feel about that? >> caller: well, the results speak for themselves.
if you see what happened in vietnam, it's interesting how going this very firm way of wanting to militarize the area did not seem, the outlook did not seem to deposit it. and you have people working in the government who lived and was researching what was happening in russia. it seems that all that work was not taken into account. >> host: thank you, ma'am. >> guest: well, martha, just quickly, mcnamara relative to cuba, mcnamara, like everyone else on what was called the ex-com, the executive committee, was strongly in favor of the quarantine to cut russian ships and missiles off from are cuba. relative to cannon and paul
nietzsche, cannon had a big ego. you can't blame him for that. his famous telegram was taken as the blueprint which really we continued with relatively modest changes. paul really was a continuation of george kenno, this. they basically saw much more eye to eye than they would have differences. >> host: if you remember, we started off this ram with an e-mail -- in the program with an e-mail from richard krause in washington, d.c., and he had a second question that we didn't get to, so he's tweeted that in to remind us. >> guest: oh, okay. >> host: so mr. krause is tweeting in, please try to fit in my second question about what to do with old generals, and he went on to say -- and i apologize, because i deleted the e-mail, but he went on to say should they be serving on boards of directors, being in the defense industry?
>> guest: a really interesting and provocative question that i should try to duck. i'm of two minds about that. we have to be careful who is a general and why is he wanted for certain things. if somebody wants somebody on a board because he believes he understands finances of a business or manager, i can understand that -- or something, i can understand that. but if you want somebody there for window dressing or possibly for influence, that's -- i think you're walking a very fine line. i wouldn't, i think the boards of trustees themselves should be the ones who judge this, not outsiders. but i agree it's something that should be on display.
look, there are certain classes of people that believe they've done such a good job that they should be known forever because they've done a good job in the past. let me give you one class, doctors. whenever a doctor retires, you still address the envelope to doctor so and so, and that's what he expects. many senators do the same thing after they've retired, and practically all generals do it. but if you're a major or something, you don't do it. so there is, there is this feeling a little bit that maybe you're owed something. so i think you have to be very careful of that. and i know that's a wish chi wash chi -- wishy washy answer. >> host: when you hear the phrase it's necessary to win the hearts and minds, what do you think? >> guest: i think that i'm saddened. because this whole notion of protecting and more do -- and
persuading pashtun tribes is a fanciful, imaginative, lovey dovey theory that makes no sense on a battlefield. and it hurts. it gets in the way. general mcchrystal saying that 95% of our time should be spent persuading the pashtuns and 5% of our time fighting the enemy? i think that's crazy. what do you tell an 18-year-old marine or ranger that you've given a rifle and you walk out there and you say, well, don't fight the enemy. go and have a cup of tea with the elders. it made no sense. and the people on the ground knew it. there is, i would say that there's a cutoff point from the battalion level on down. battalion level is 700 people. from the commander of the battalion on down, there was a different perspective of this war tan there was at the higher level -- than there was at the higher level x. that
reconciliation between those two perspectives haven't occurred yet. >> host: thomas in sparta, wisconsin, please go ahead with your question or comment for author bing west. >> caller: thank you so much, mr. west, and hello, c-span. i'm a 20-year veteran, entered as a private, retired as a major. was a drill sergeant, went through ocf, was a -- [inaudible] company commander for project 100,000, was a rifle company commander in vietnam, spent some time in the hospital in 249th in japan, returned to the brigade as an operations officer. and i have, i thought, was a very good working among knowledf the army from the enlisted through the officer ranks until 2003. i went to washington, d.c. as
part of the vietnam veterans memorial fund teach vietnam network. and i met stanley or car november. had a long talk with him, basically a long listening session. i read his book, and billy changed my concept of why we were in seat fam. i was wondering -- vietnam. i was wondering, sir, did you ever read -- plus, i was also a ocs company commander during the vietnam era too. so i was on the ground, and i trained. but getting back to it, sir, i'd like to know did you ever read the book, and what did you think of it? >> guest: i did read the book. tell you the truth, i didn't come away with any, anything conclusive enough to respond to you, thomas. but i would like if you'd explain to the the audience a minute your perspective of
project -- what it was, project 100,000 and how it worked. >> host: he's gone, i apologize. >> guest: oh, okay. >> host: so what was -- >> guest: project 100,000 was an effort by mcnamara to bring this people who were not qualified to be in the military to give them a chance. and it didn't work out well because the amount of dereliction of duty and bad conduct among the group was entirely too high. it would have been interesting to listen to what he had to say about that, thomasment. >> host: what would you think about a draft? >> guest: can't be done. just -- we don't have the money to do it. we, it would be too disruptive. so i am not at all this favor of the draft. >> host: adam e-mails in to you, what do you think of what is described as a nationalist trend in japan and an apparent desire by policymakers for japan to have a more robust military?
>> guest: i think it's inevitable. i believe that japan is beginning to question our fidelity to their security and will gradually build up their own forces. >> host: and how do you feel about that? >> guest: i think since it's inevitable, it'd be irrelevant what i feel about it. but i think it's, i can't predict the future, but i think it's probably the right thing to do. but i can't predict how china's going to react, blah, blah, blah. but it's going to happen anyway. >> host: teresa in ormond beach, florida. hi, teresa. >> caller: hi. yes, my father was a marine as was my brother in vietnam, but i did protest against the iraq war because i did not believe, as millions of americans, the reasons given by the bush administration. i do agree with you on what you said earlier, especially about
disbanding the iraqi army. especially when bush said he had our planes drop leaflets all over baghdad telling the sunni army to put down your guns, don't fight us. we will financially help you and your families. well, he betrayed them, bush. he went back on that promise. and that probably started the insurgency which was basically against our soldiers. now, i also agree what you said earlier that it made no sense that we allowed bin laden to escape from torah wore rah. i agree. in retrospect i believe it made perfect sense for the bush neo-cons who wanted to invade iraq under the pretense that saddam was linked to bin laden and wmds. if we had captured bin laden, then it would have come out that saddam hussein and al-qaeda were not connected. also president obama killed osama bin laden, and he found him 900 miles east of -- 100 miles east of tora bora.
don't tell me in a new york minute that bush and company didn't know he was there. >> guest: the -- if i draw back from the individual comments, it does, i think it's worth making the observation that once you go into the military and swear to uphold the constitution, then you should always be divorced from politics, and one can be a marine or a soldier and have private opinions about something, but your duty is never to criticize your chain of command and to carry out those orders knowing that all human beings are fallible, and we won't always get it right. i think our military does a great job of staying, if you will, if their lane. -- in their lane. so regardless of how a war occurs or what mistakes the politicians make, the military
is always there to serve the president as the commander in chief, democrat or republican, and to keep their politics out of it, and i think the military's done a terrific job of doing that. >> host: mr. west, thank you for your service. i have a membership program for young people. most of them are graduating from college and want to enlist. even though a key issue more them as well as urban youth is past use of marijuana. even though they are to longer users, in order to answer the application truthfully, they would have to say how many times they used it, and currently there's a numeric level -- 15-25 -- of usage times. i'm thinking that they wait a year after college and then say they have not used it since or for so many years, this would be an acceptable answer. these young people had no idea that this would become an issue for them. most young people simply don't know the strict standards that our military people follow in
determining character. that's from brendan elliot in nextgen initiative is his group. should people who smoked pot in college and high school be kept out of the military if they answer it honestly? >> guest: i have no idea. and by that i mean the entire subject is changing so fast, and it doesn't pertain just to the pail tear. it also pertains if you want to go into law enforcement, if you want to go into the cia. there's a whole set of jobs where they ask the question have you used drugs, have you used marijuana. but i think that's such a political decision; that is, that is a decision maybe like don't ask, don't tell oring that the administration is going to have to come to grips with, discussing it with the congress and discussing it with the defense -- with the agencies. but it's not just the military. that extends across many
agencies and the private sector. where they'll come down on it, i'm not qualified to say. >> host: what do you think about gays serving openly in the military and women in combat? >> guest: two different issues. gays serving openly in the military? it's fine. no issue. women in bat we have to define that -- in combat, we have to twine that very carefully. we're not going to repeal the laws of sex. we're not going to repeal body strength. we're not going to repeal muck and the blood ask that you cannot have any favoritism toward anybody when you're in combat, and they are all expendable. i would be highly reluctant to see us throw everything out the window and say we're just going
to open up the ranks to be in the infantry. and i don't say that just because i'm an old -- i say that with very due consideration that you have to look at that one really carefully. >> host: one of the stories we didn't touch on if "the wrong war" is your personal experience in afghanistan with cholera. >> guest: oh, well -- >> host: what happened? >> guest: it was my own fault. i didn't realize just, i didn't realizeyou eat a melon -- if you eat a melon, that the hell loan is the most per national of all fruits for sucking in -- which when you think of it, of course it is. in order to have watermelon, watermelon. so when the water is filled with feces and you eat that watermelon, i guess you deserve what happens to you. [laughter]
>> host: but -- >> guest: let's move on. >> host: but at the same time, you're talking about a near death experience. >> guest: well, so what? i mean, a lot of us are those sorts of things. it just causes you to sort of say even an old dog has to learn some new tricks like, you know, use common sense when you do certain things, you know? but i must say, i really love those army doctors, you know? >> host: jon is calling from chicago. jon, please go ahead. >> caller: semper fi, sir. >> guest: semper fi. >> caller: golly, what a breath of fresh air. i would like to thank you for all the veterans out there listening, sir, for having such a straightforward and being an advocate for the fighting man. are you a fifth marine regiment, sir, from vietnam? >> guest: i was. i was with 2-5. >> caller: 2-5. do do you remember the name dela
garza? that was the fella that earned the medal of honor, sir. i think he was 1-5. >> guest: 1-5. >> caller: sir, could you talk about dakota? let's switch gears here a little bit. it's been a whole wunsch of -- bunch of serious questions. talk about dakota, sir. >> guest: well, dakota highier is simply illustrative, he made sergeant leader, he was fighting when he was 19. the point about seem like dakota -- people like dakota, which gives me great hope in the future, is that you get these young men whose environment is such that when they come in, they know if you join the marine corps, the marine corps doesn't join you. and if you come in, you live up to a certain set of standards. they'll train you, but you have to have the right stuff to given with. and they put that together, and it makes a composite that's an excellent fighting man.
and dakota meyer, who was awarded the medal of honor, and others like captain swenson who was the army captain who was awarded the medal of honor, they illustrate the kinds of young men that we want in this service, and we're getting them. we're getting them. our services are doing better, not worse. so i'm, i am optimistic about what we're doing internal to the services. i am not optimistic about the level of money that we're giving to them to do their job. we're cutting them too muchment muchment -- too much. >> host: are you still in touch with dakota a meyer? "into the fire," by the way, was ping west's last -- bing west's last book that he wrote with dakota meyer. are you still in touch with mr. meyer? do you know where he is now? >> guest: oh, yeah. he's back in kentucky. he has a construction business. dakota's doing very well, and he lives next to his dad, and his dad's a terrific man, so he comes from a very good community. >> host: bing west, did you
follow think soldiers that came back with ptsd? >> guest: the answer is, yes. but i have -- let me draw back. post-traumatic stress disorder. no, post-traumatic stress. anyone who has been on the front lines in combat and seen his fellow soldiers and marines blown up or has seen, has killed people and seen the messed-up bodies is going to have some post-traumatic stress. it doesn't mean it's a disorder. everyone who fought in normandy in 1944, everyone who fought in iwo jima in 1945, horrendous battles. did they come back with stress? absolutely. were they disordered? most of them weren't. we have -- and i'll tell you what the marines tell me, this
platoon that i was with. this platoon had 52 who went in, 26 were wounded or killed, nine amputations. they had eight -- no, they didn't have eight, they had four out of the 52 who are receiving benefits from the veterans affairs for post-traumatic stress disorder. that's 8% of the platoon that saw the most combat in afghanistan. the force as a whole has 20%. and of them are in the rear and never engaged in combat. but we have to be very careful that we don't do with the military to a surgeon extent what -- certain extent what we've done with some police departments, fire departments, etc., where it's expected that you get something extra with your pension for some disability or something. and i don't want to get too far into this, but we have to be very careful that we don't
overstretch things and get to the point where we're saying, well, you were shot at, you have to have post-traumatic stress disorder to. you're going to have stresses, but you can get on with your life. they're not all disorders. >> host: you had a series of book with, taking baghdad with the u.s. marines, no true glory, and -- that were kind of very fast. they read almost novelistic in a sense because you're moving along. are you still in touch with a lot of those soldiers? >> guest: oh, enormous amount of back ask can be forth. e-mail -- or back and fort. e-mail you just have to be careful. my wife betsy says sometimes i'm spending too much time on e-mail. so you end up, you have to be real careful because once you start a conversation, you can e-mail back and forth. i have to get on with my writing. but i can reach out can and touch them, i have long lists,
and occasionally when i write something they'll come back and say, atta boy, bing. >> host: john mcgraw e-mails in, and he's not a fan of yours. you would have us in every possible war. i'm glad you were not my unit leader in vietnam. you remind me of the worse case of overconfidence in the military. >> guest: what does that mean? i would have him in every war. i don't know. i don't know what he's talking about. >> host: edward, dover, delaware. hi, edward, you're on with bing west. >> caller: i'll ask my question, then i want to hang up and listen to his answer. what does he think of rumsfeld? >> host: edward, what do you think of secretary rumsfeld? we're getting the delay, unfortunately. bing west, what do you think of secretary rumsfeld? >> guest: i believe that secretary rumsfeld should have resigned after abu ghraib.
that that became an albatross around his neck ask around the neck -- and around the neck of the war effort and the president. and at some point, it would have been better simply to say, mr. president, it happened on my watch. that's all you have to say, that's it. give it to somebody else. my responsibility. if you're in the navy and you're in charge of the ship and you go to sleep and that ship runs aground or something, your odds of getting relieved are very, very high. even though you were asleep because it was your vessel. you're supposed to be responsible for everything. i think secretary rumsfeld, it would have been much better for everybody if he had resigned at that time. >> host: prior to abu ghraib, what did you think of his management of the war?
>> guest: management of the war. tricky subject. manage, lead, it is my personal opinion that the you send people to -- that if you send people to die ask you're the president of the united states -- or send them into war knowing that they're going to die and you are the president or you are the secretary of defense, you should spend an e author house amount of time -- enormous amount of time really understanding that war and not just relying on somebody else and not just relying on what he says, but somehow finding out so that you have your pulse on it because those are living people. and i think that we would have been hutch better served -- much better served if both president george w. bush and secretary rumsfeld had taken much more time to really understand it rather than just say, well, this is something i don't like the
general, i'm going to replace the general. >> host: warren is calling from palm bay, florida. warren, please go ahead. >> caller: yes. i was a teenage marine in korea. my commanding officer, last one i had over there, was marion carl. i think you probably have heard of him. my favorite marine, butler, i read his book, "war is a racquet," and i think if we had listened to evan carlson like he wrote in his book, we'd see that we could have never won in vietnam. and i can remember on a troop ship today told us we are going there -- they told us we are going there to make south korea free for democracy, and what was it, 16 years later they had a democratic election. this country loves war, but that's my comment. >> host: this country loves war. first of all, did you recognize some of the names --
>> guest: i did, i did. i did, indeed. well, let me just spend a moment with butler as the example. pedly butler was a famous marine, i believe he may have received the pedal of honor. he certainly was a ferocious fighter, and he was extremely cynical can about why we were fighting the banana wars at the beginning of the 20th century. and that illustrates my point earlier, i think, that the you're a marine, if you're a soldier, the you're an air -- if you're an airman or coast guardsman or a sailor, you should be able to do your job and not be involved in in my ofe politics of it because sometimes we get things right, sometimes we get things wrong. but overall i would argue that the united states more than any other nationing in this century has been and the past century and true today has been a source for good for the world. it's -- we're not out picking
wars. i would argue that world war ii, which was the decisive war, we went to help others for. ask that was the most, that dwarfed any other war. and there's certainly no evidence today, absolutely no evidence that we're out there trying to find a war to the fight. my goodness gracious, we're trying to pull back as much as we can. >> host: phyllis e-mails in to you, mr. west, from carmel, california, please comment about better medical treatment both short term and long term for our veterans and their families. >> guest: the treatment of the families, let me, let me difference shape. differentiate. i don't know. i cannot comment about families of veterans relative to u.s. government and how the u.s. government plays a role there. i can say that the student that we have given -- the treatment that we have given to our
warriors when they come back wounded is extraordinary. i mean, it's just remarkable. in vietnam one out of every four of us who was wounded died. now today it's one out of seven. so we've practically doubled the good care. i believe the va is trying its absolute best to do what it can with more and more ailments now being reported that's just going to grow and grow over time. but i believe they're doing their absolute best. the issue that's going to confront us with the military health care overall going forward is the sam issue that's going to confront us with the care. the desire for the care eventually is going to outstrip the resources tar available. >> host: mike in napa, california. >> caller: hi. may i start talking? >> host: please do. we're listening, sir.
>> caller: okay. yeah, i had a question regarding will bing's talk about -- mr. bing's talk about the lack of financial resources. and i wanted to know relative to the other, the military side problems like his author, mr. cra cow says everything starts with politics. and obviously the politics relative to the financial crisis that make them come up short on the financial end, which is most important end to start from? where's the -- what's the biggest problem, in other words, of the two? >> guest: well, if i could rephrase it, it would be like this: we used to spend relatively 6% of our gross national product, of our wealth on defense, and we spent 18% on all the federal programs. now we're spending 24% on all
the federal programs, and we're dropping defense to 4%. so if you look at defense as just being an insurance program, if you're getting more wealth, the first thing you don't do is say i'm going to cut my insurance. because then if a catastrophe happens, you lose more. i would simply argue that we should just have picked a figure like 4%, 4.5% and say, look, we'll just continue at that level and tell the military, that's the amount of money, now you figure out how you're going to do it. trying every year just to cut them, i don't think, is wise. >> host: i want to follow up on that va e-mail we got. when you were serving, what kind of differences do you see between the services offered to veterans in the vietnam era as opposed to today? >> guest: everyone, i would start by saying i wasn't even aware of services. now everyone's aware of services. that's the huge difference. do you know that everyone now
leaving the service has an exit interview at which point they're told here are all the services that the va can provide for you. we never had that. and i'm sure that we would have had four times as many if somebody had said here's your choices. so i'd say that's the biggest difference. >> host: when you left the military, when did you leave the military? >> guest: about '67. >> host: and what was of your exit like? [laughter] >> guest: that was it. [laughter] i mean, there was no, there was no exit. see ya later, you know? there was no exit. now they have everything much more structured than they did then. >> host: i want to read one more quote from from "the strongest " that you write. american society seems frivolous and soft, yet it produces the world's toughest warriors. american society is fickle, yet its warriors keep coming year after year without encouragement from society, especially its
elite, our warrior class selects itself. >> guest: absolutely true. >> host: is there a divide between what you call elite and people who serve in the military? >> guest: um -- >> host: is there distrust? >> guest: i, i'm on thin ice on that one because i haven't thought it through myself. i will say that i wish that, i wish that the ivy leagues sent more into the military. i wish that we hadn't got to the point where it's highly unusual. hi son went to harvard, and there were -- my son went to harvard, and there were only five if his graduating class who went into the military, and of that five when i went to the ceremony, they held it in the basement to excision them. i wish that -- to commission them. i wish that there was more
parity. at the same time, i have to say that the average person coming into the military today comes from middle class to upper middle class families. the average combined salary of the parents is $8 to 0,000, and most of them come from families with both parents. so i'm perfectly satisfied with everybody coming into the military. i wish some of the ivy league schools would do a little bit more, but that's just a quibble on the margin. >> host: bing west, your book, "the village," 15 walked in, 8 walked out, is on the commandant's reading list. >> guest: the commandant of the marine corps has a list of books that everyone should read, and it's been on the list for 40 or 50 years. of. >> host: don is calling from kendrick, idaho. >> caller: yeah. i'm a vietnam vet.
i was drafted when i got out of high school. and i have a totally, completely different view of the marine corps than what mr. west has. i don't see any rational progression of what he says at all. if he believes really that we're selecting better fighters now, then why do we have such difficult problems where a vast majority of people coming out of the service are applying for disability benefits? there continues to be soldier-on-soldier killings, there continues to be ever-increasing sexual assaults with the claim that the military command is in command when clearly they're not.
if they are, then they're all complicit in the problems. >> host: don, don, we'll have mr. wes respond to some of your -- mr. west respond to some of your issues, but you said that you were drafted into the marines during during vietnam? very quickly, what was your experience? >> caller: what was my -- you mean, what did i do while i was in the service? >> host: right. >> guest: the marines. >> host: right. what was your impression of being in the service at that point and being drafted in? >> caller: my impression was that it was pretty much a jena laze that the country -- a general z malaise that the country had been in for some time that we believed the only settlement to any kind of a problem is to bully the rest of the world. >> host: were you in the marine corps? >> caller: pardon? >> guest: were you in the marine
corps? >> caller: in the marine corps, yeah, correct. >> guest: and what unit were you with? >> caller: when i was overseas? >> guest: in vietnam. >> caller: third. >> host: he talked about sexual assault, he talked about soldier-on-soldier violence. he didn't bring up suicide which the current military is facing. >> guest: i guess you'd have to say compared to what so you're comparing an apple with an apple. the question is, are suicides very prevalent? i don't think so. sexual assault is interesting. they gave, i guess, the survey to 26,000 people. balanced so that most of the respondees were males rather than females. i haven't understood why no one said, well, you know, in all --
you can see where i'm driving on that one. i think there are many people this the military if they're given a survey, they're going to jot things down, and i am not persuaded just from the survey that that is an accurate indication of what's actually occurring. i suppose i have more faith in the commanding officer structure. until one compared what was happening in college with what's happening in the ranks of something, and until i could see some comparison, i am not persuaded that it is -- i would be arguing that there's probably less in the military than outside the military. but i can't prove that until someone is willing to compare an apple to an apple. >> host: donny nicklaus e-mails in to you, what is the difference between nation building in iraq and afghanistan
versus nation building in japan and germany? >> guest: oh, you mean back in world war ii? well, i think it's quite clear. at the end of world war ii, we said unconditional surrender. we are in charge. we are going to tell you, the germans, what to do. we're going to tell you, the japanese, what to do. there was no issue about coming in and saying, mother, may i. we restructured their societies because they had committed mass murder. ask we had the nuremberg trials, and we executed the leaders. in iraq and afghanistan, we went in, the colonial era was over, and we turned to somebody like prime minister maliki and somebody like president karzai and said you're in charge. we will not affect your promotions whatsoever. you choose whomever you want, and we'll do the fighting for you. so a vastly different system
between japan and germany versus iraq and afghanistan. >> host: michael paul e-mails in to you, mr. west, is it the responsibility of the u.s. to make the world safe for democracy, or is a democratic republic a reality only for those willing to die for it themselves? >> guest: i, mr. paul, come down much more on the latter. that a democratic society you have to be willing to die for it yourself. >> host: is it the world's -- is it our responsibility, though, to be the world's policeman in a sense? >> guest: no, it is not. it is our responsibility, it seems to me, that in certain areas to establish rules of the road that are common to everybody. for instance, at sea there will not be piracy. we will help to enforce that rule of the road. we will not enable people to say that they can extend out their territorial boundaries a
thousand miles. so there are certain global rules that we would say we as part of the united nations will insure are -- freedom of the air, to fly, etc. and i think we've dope a very good job of that -- done a very good job of that. but we do not have the responsibility of trying to make the world safe for democracy. >> host: chris in brooklyn, please go ahead with your question or comment for author ask military historian bing west. >> caller: hello, mr. west, how are you? >> guest: good, chris. >> caller: yes. i'd like to say el low and semper fi. >> guest: semper fi. >> caller: i'd like to hear his comments -- i have two questions, one on what he thought of general wald's opinion of people and keeping 'em safe and westmoreland's, you know, point of view which was worry about going out into the mountains to get, you know, the vc. actually, nva.
my opinion is that wald had it right and westmoreland had it wrong. and my second question to you is we approximately right now have six or seven aircraft carrier groups at any one time, and i'm worried about what the chinese navy's going to do. i think within five years they're going to start -- within five years they're going to start making moves in, you know, the pacific to challenge us. >> host: all right, thank you, chris. let's get an answer. bing west? >> guest: chris, i believe you're correct on both issues. look, the first question chris asked was about what happened in vietnam because general westmoreland who was down south in saigon wanted to go out to the mountains to fight the north vietnamese a regulars. up in the north where the marines were, there was a general by the name of walt, and he believed in trying to protect the population along the coast, and that's why he sent me -- actually, it was general walt who sent me out to write that
book. so, yeah, i'm in general walt's camp. now, your second question i think is very pertinent. you said six or seven carrier task groups out there. no, chris, we're down to three. we only have at any given time in the world today three carriers at sea. we only have 11 carriers altogether. but only three of them are sailing. so we can't be in the atlantic, the mediterranean, the indian ocean and the pacific at the same time. we don't have enough ships. do i think we're going to have some faceoffs with china? yes, i do. yeah, i do. and is china building up its carrier, trying to? yes. they're way behind us. but i am worried that we keep pushing the united states navy down, and there could come a crossover point. so six or seven, i mean, that's illustrative, chris. we don't have six or seven anymore out there. we only have three. >> host: gustavo we area rah,
blacksburg, virginia. e-mail: i just want to share my story about how i perceive the role of the military in this country. born and raised in europe, i moved to the u.s. 12 years ago. since then i can truly state that i have experienced the concept of the american dream. i am a college professor who also serves in the army national guard originally as an enlisted and now as an officer. i serve because i feel that it is the least i can do to pay back this country for the most precious things i got. furthermore, joining the military has contributed immensely towards my integration in this great society. >> guest: wow. i can't improve upon that. especially from a professor. god bless you. [laughter] >> host: bing west, what again are the books that you are currently working on? >> guest: well, there are two. i'm working on a book about courage called "one million steps" which is the number of steps each marine in a platoon had to take over the
mine-infested ground before he returned to the united states in southern afghanistan, and i'm trying to explain why did they fight so fiercely even when they lost their leaders and never gave up? and that has to do with small unit cohesion which is critical always for anything you do. it's critical on any ship, it's critical for any air crew, it's critical on land. and i'm trying to indicate that we still have that cohesion. the other book is entirely different, and there's this very distinguished general by the name of james mattis, sometimes called mad dog among other things, who is a terrific war fighter and also in charge of our central command until a few months ago. and i'm trying to help him write a book about leadership and strategy. >> host: bing west has been our guest this month on "in depth." he is the author of seven nonfiction books and one novel, and this book right here, "the wrong war: grit, strategy and